Stephen Miller’s review published on Letterboxd:
2014 had its share of suboptimal movie-watching experiences, but looking back on Calvary I don't think I'd trade mine for anything. The recipe:
1. I went in completely blind, having never read a review or seen a trailer.
2. I thought the title was "Cavalry", and that Brendan Gleeson was playing some sort of Patton-esque general in a war biopic. The poster easily supported this belief. Even now it looks like he's on a horse, surveying the battlefield.
3. I had no desire to watch a war biopic, and only begrudgingly agreed to review this for the podcast.
4. I came in 5 minutes late and the theatre decided not to show trailers. So I missed the opening scene. You know, the one that informs the entire movie.
The net effect: a looming sense of hazy dread that was impossible to pin down, culminating in a sort of meta-mystery thriller where the mystery was "what is everyone so worried about?" Constantly wondering when he's going to give up the priesthood and remarkable philosophic conversations, to join the army or at least become a chaplain. Delight, about an hour in, upon realization that he's never going to join the army, and that the horses must be a metaphor. Total shock in the third act.
Having watched the movie since then, in its intended form, I still believe it's a masterpiece. But honestly? I liked the first one better.